6 AM, it's going to be a good day, in 24 hrs I will be in Berlin doing something touristy. 7 AM, arrive at John Wayne Airport. Flight delayed. Fly into SFO, connecting flight delayed. Fly into Frankfurt, miss connecting flight. Arrive in Berlin. Wait for luggage. Luggage lost. Jet lagged. Sleep the afternoon away (best sleep I think I've had in a while). 3 AM, wake up and explore Berlin. I'm not complaining just illustrating the comedy of my journey. This is my favorite part about traveling jet lagged: rummaging the streets like a hopeful flea market visitor, except your the only one there (important because I love flea markets but hate hordes of people which describes my love but primarily hate relationship with theme parks). I try to do this in every city I visit and highly recommend it (more on this in an upcoming post).
Berlin seems a bit quieter than Madrid and Brussels in the late night, but I do hear it rages so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt contrary to my experience thus far. In the other two cities I frequently saw groups of youngsters often with a half finished beer in hand stumbling back home at 3, 4 AM. Cheers to them, I'm what you call a lightweight.
From a photographic standpoint though, solitude paired with the eccentrically modern and massive architecture of Potsdamer Platz yields a subliminal experience. It was eerie... it felt a bit like I was playing zombies in Black Ops II and there was only one crawling zombie somewhere. But it was a cool experience nonetheless, and although the bed back at the hotel felt like it was crafted of Zeus's personal cloud, I wouldn't trade my experience in a million years.
As for the middle of the days, I had little time to dedicate to shooting and left the DSLR in the hotel (I took out a borrowed Leica D'lux which helped me cope w this fact). Taking the weight off my shoulders was incredibly liberating and had enough discomfort with the heat, I become a grumpy old man in heat. I'm just trying to record great memories, and those memories are less great when lugging around gear with a wet back in the heat of summer. If I really want "the shot" of a certain monument or building, I'll come back right before sunset w my D810 and shoot. That way I am not half assing it. I'm a devout whole asser.
MY TWO CENTS: If you are exploring a really touristy place and will be venturing for 5+ hrs and are debating bringing a DSLR (aka a big camera), I say don't do it if all you are trying to do is record your time there and take snapshots. This is especially true if you are shooting in full auto. The iPhone 5 and 6 and equivalent phones are more than competent for taking great photos if you learn how to use them, I used to not believe this but I believed wrong. The camera on your phones are made to take great photos in auto, and while the DSLR is also great for that, a DSLR really shines when you take control of the camera and make decisions on how exactly you want the shot. Results from auto on a DSLR is very similar to the results from auto on your phone. The inconvenience of the camera is not worth the marginally "better" photos you get with a DSLR. My answer changes if you have a small mirrorless camera though.
MY RANDOM THIRD CENT: Buy books not gear to improve your photography. I am guilty of GAS (Gear acquisition syndrome) as much as anyone. It's a dangerously attractive thought, "If I get this new lens, I'll have way sharper photos, less distortion, the color rendition will be way more accurate." The truth is no one in your every day life gives a rats ass about that.
Below are some shots of my time in Berlin. Next, stop Prague. I'll be "studying" there til December and writing and sharing photos about the experience in the coming months. Chime in if you feel so inclined!